Yumy Odom isn’t really here for race-swapping superheroes.
Asked about the ongoing Marvel story arc in which Sam Wilson — formerly the Falcon — takes up the shield and title of Captain America, Odom said, “It’s still a carbon copy. I don’t invest in carbon copies, for the most part. … Why not just make a better Falcon?”
Not to mention, he said, “That’s not going to last, as we’ve seen over the years.”
Odom is the president and founder of the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention, a Philadelphia-based organization that, in addition to hosting an annual con in that city, conducts comics-literacy outreach and education in the region.
“What we stress is folks can make new characters instead of just black versions of white things,” Odom said. “There’s a whole world of people who are left out.”
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ECBACC will offer two workshops Saturday at the Atlantic City Free Public Library for ages 9 to 12 and 13 to 18, including one on creating your own superhero, something the mythology-obsessed Odom says he’s created dozens of over the years.
“When they’re finished, they should have at least a concept” for an original character, said Odom, who leads the character-creation workshop. Akinseye Brown leads the earlier literacy/creativity workshop for younger children.
Maureen Moffit, head of youth services for the library, mentioned ECBACC last year when discussing plans to spend a $4,000 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grant, $1,000 of which was earmarked for comics-related programming.
Odom’s love of comics dates to 1975, when his mother bought him some to read while he was in the hospital being treated for an arm injury. Chief among those first books was Marvel’s “X-Men” #96, which introduced him to Storm, the weather-manipulating mutant who grew up in Africa and for a time was worshipped as a goddess in Kenya.
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He created his comics-literacy workshops in the 1980s, and the first East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention was held in 2002.
The convention attracts about 400 people every year, according to Odom, and includes a cosplay party called AfriCoz, for which participants are encouraged to dress up as original creations, and the Glyph awards, which recognize black creators and content in the industry.
This year’s ECBACC show will be held May 19 and 20 at TECH Freire Charter School, 2221 N. Broad St. in Philadelphia. Admission is free.
In addition to this weekend’s program at the library, Joe Del Beato, a former artist for Marvel and DC Comics, teaches a free comic-art class at 3:30 p.m. the second and fourth Thursdays of the month.